Having found unparalleled success in the air, Chinese drone maker DJI is bringing things down to ground level with its first ever roving robot. An educational tool first and a toy for playtime second, the RoboMaster S1 will bring some battle and racing fireworks to the living room floor, but overall is designed to offer a gentle pathway into the world of AI, engineering and robotics.

The Robomaster S1 is so named because it's inspired by DJI's annual RoboMaster Robotics Competition for students, while the S1 is meant to denote "Step 1." In keeping with this, the robot comes in modules so that kids can piece it together and wire it up themselves to learn how it all comes together.

That includes a set of four Mecanum wheels with 12 rollers apiece for omnidirectional movement, a mechanical gimbal fitted with a "blaster" for firing lightweight gel bead projectiles and sensor-equipped intelligent armor to detect strikes from rival S1 robots. Powering it along are brushless motors and a 2,400-mAh battery said to be good for 35 minutes of use.

The SI can be controlled manually with a smartphone app or dedicated controller, and comes with a set of smart functions right out of the box. These include an ability to automatically follow a line across the floor as mapped out by the user, recognize 44 different kinds of visual markers, (which that could serve as traffic lights, for example), follow a person in its field of vision, recognize and respond to claps and hand gestures, and perform unique movements when it encounters a fellow S1.

More advanced users can write Scratch 3.0 and Python code to customize their S1s to perform an even wider array of functions. These could be unique skills, adjusting the torque of the wheels or programming special counter attacks during an S1 battle royale.

The RoboMaster S1 is available from today and is priced at US$499. You can check out the robot's promo video below.

Source: DJI

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